The Underground Librarian

What cats do before meeting curiosity sellers….

Candy: Hard Candy III

Posted by Tespid on November 27, 2015

Hard Candy III

There are two safety issues when gifting, selling, eating, donating, and testing food. The first is never eat in a witch’s home. As a classic Christian defense, understand that a person versed in the art of potions, lotion, and Dr. Grammer’s Natural Snake Oil may not keep the kitchen as clean as the local dining hot spot. Not to forget the culinary craft, no doubt, sits higher than a magical one, nine times out of ten. Not every metaphysical maven is inclined to kitchen witchery where food becomes medicine and a sense of nursing becomes overwhelming. What we typify from the television and movie screens may not be reality, still take heed with your own definitions and be safe. Mind you, eye of newt looks much better on the amphibian versus suspended in ice cubes lingering at the bottom of a glass of lemonade.

Rule of thumb number two has inclined my ethics since a young gazer into the occasional grimoire. In my conscience’ battles and moments of patient reserve I concluded never cast a love spell. Never cast a love spell and especially not one that requires drink, food, or a topical application. Having the patience for it to integrate into the body was not what drew my attention. It was simple morals; never compromise free will. If you do, it will never be love. It will be a journey full of anger, deceit, and wiping a grown person’s ass for ears. The dependence will far outgrow feigned mutual interest. The time stolen demands its recompense one way or another.

Resentment for love, lustful for intimacy, and hateful for popularity, lingers as an aftertaste to all love spells. However, I did give into my curiosity once. I designed something potent, and researched every nuance. Come Christmas that year I had another spell to try. This time I was just as desperate for promises in the New Year as in the past when I got in the habit of casting stones, bones, garbage, and a fractured ego to find the littlest things to motivate me to stalk that dream into reality. After measurements and putting positives forward in went the ingredients to a lace pouch. I hung it in my bedroom. The love I lost was not from a casual affair. I cast to love myself more than I had before and tried to be patient with its growth. Self-esteem and strength I had lost over the past three years. I recouped the damage and my heart grew like the Grinch over the next eight months. Love yourself, in that depth others will come to adore the self-worth you exude.

Time has marked nothing at my bedpost, but it has gouged a myriad of scratches into the wood of my worktable. I got the clue too late for a drop cloth cover and a notion even later than that to guard the wood by mounting it with a long wooden plank across the top. On top is the studio, it holds almost everything including my time. This six-year itch of developing a style has put me out for a daily confession. To endure the slow days of existence, I tell tales in candy wrappers and boxes of chocolate to stave off the pain of burning out. The one care left, bringing me under the mount, is a cookbook I found at ½ Price Books. The book teems with candy recipes. For six months, I held onto it with both hands. Having held onto the book with conviction, unfortunately I sold it leaving nothing but divine thoughts around the corners of my mouth. Browned pages and a handful of stains endeared it to me. The book, like my presence did not stay much longer in my kitchen home away from harangue. Survival’s many ways all left paths to the bookstore and I wide eyed in my mother’s kitchen two years later.

Upon arrival to my mother’s home, I refrained from cooking a few weeks into the fray. Then the cravings began. Not fast food, but what I discovered in plays at my former kitchen far away in another county. I wanted hard candy. Toffee came to mind and I went head first into cabinet looking for the Alpha and Omega of cookbooks. Joy of Cooking is on the second shelf up to the left. Sadly, English butter toffee called for ingredients that I did I not have. Three days after one phone call to Dad, followed by finding a post office box key, made the trip to the grocer possible.

I should get used to fouling a recipe on the first pass. During my first test, the sugar and dairy solution would always burn for a disappointing finish. I always miss the cue to lift it from the heat before the acrid aroma of charcoal blossoms in the middle of the kitchen then barreling to the other side of the kitchen to dump out into the dining room past the door jam. Catching the boil before the burn means I need to sit it out next to the stove. Cooking deserves as much attention as my distractions: watching television, washing dishes, thumbing cookbooks to find the quintessential caramel recipe. Indeed, they are all worthy distractions.

The first batch was missing the whipping cream and instead was loved with whole milk and unsalted butter. That year I was desperate for notoriety as a candy maker; at least around my household, so the disappointment was huge. On the second batch, I spent the boiling time scouring for ingredients to couple with the toffee. Upon finding pretzel rods, I spent a few minutes of playing crumbly into a buttered cookie sheet. Being ready to pour the boiling toffee was sheer painful anticipation. Come hard crack stage and a singe of sugar to the nose, I poured the liquid sugar over the pretzels into the cookie sheet. I had a little patience, so I let the mix cure over night. Dark chocolate and chopped almonds were the grace note that finished the toffee symphony. I munched for days and late nights. I even took what remained to share at a Thanksgiving meal. I forgot to set the box out and left at the end of the day with the same mound of sugar I brought. More for me, yes? In hindsight, one problem was using old pretzels. They needed crisping up in the oven. That I will remember.

Now that I have tasted burnt sugar, letting it roll back and forth over my tongue, I am not afraid of pairing it with other foods. The bottom note on the palette reminds me of molasses or sorghum, but that is a recipe for another day.

The urge to take of the kitchen happens several times a year. I am still learning my way around the windowsill come spring to start the seeds. I just started learning my way around the harvest schedule for timely vegetables and fruit when summer’s heat arrives. In the corners of my mind, I search for savory meats and ground grains come autumn. Lastly come winter I learned to keep flour, sugar and butter nearby for the times when it makes sense to work the hearth to its fullest on the weekends. However, baking is not the only call; homemade confections have started making their own demands these past few years. The call is for both craft shows and domestic bliss, all to follow with a scheduled visit to the dentist.
My last pass at English butter toffees was about two Christmas seasons ago. I was convinced I could be clever and attentive enough not to burn the batch. Pulling the batch one stage before the directions describe, I poured off into a buttered tin pie pan and opted for a rapid cook in the refrigerator. Then it happened. The slurry chipped and cracked easily on its own. It was more than pleasant not to take a meat-tenderizing mallet to the toffee in the pan. Gathering the delicate chips into a bag, I knew they were perfect for two recipes. One was soft peanut butter cookies and the other was Tim’s Courtship Cookies.

The tale of two cookies may indeed be simple, but for memory’s details, something more profound tends to happen. Let us begin with the months after making good on finances and learning how to repair the rest. I got a piece of mail that was offering me a chance to rebuild credit through a car purchase. Little did I read my other notes for the consumer credit counseling and hold fast with what I had. Seduction by Toyota’s offers was not much of a difficult process. I fell over at the instigation of a 4×4 and all the dreams of remodeling the shed into a proper studio. I would need tools, wood, and a vehicle that could move all of that easily. My eye grew big of a forerunner for weeks. My eyes only got larger when I went to visit the local car dealership. That night after work, all I could do is try to keep my mouth shut as the sales man tried every tactic to take advantage of me. Every question I asked that I knew the answer to, he countered me with a fabricated lie. I finally became tired and took a moment for anger’s sake. Hearing a strange noise, I looked up; helicopters everywhere, I was dumbfounded. Getting out of there was not that easy. He refused to end the interview and continued to herd me around the lot. Finally, we went inside and he asked for all the information to check my credit. I did not know what to think, because I did not know the process. Shortly after I told him, I had other commitment and need to leave. His insistence and plea for a sale in front of a picture of his family pushed me out of the door. Still I ended up on the other side of the Metroplex with a blank check from Toyota that maneuvered me into a vehicle in one afternoon.

My lessons in retail did not stop with Toyota that night. Come two weeks later, one of the vehicle’s idiot lights came on. This is where I met Tim, the grace of a nomer to the courtship cookie. As for the car’s idiot light, I could not figure it out for the life of me. Even the fix did not seem included in the owner’s manual. So, in I went for a fix and no, it was not the check engine light. I may have a dull blade for a wit, but my step daddy done taught me right on that aspect. “Have ’em check it out. It may not cost a thing”. So, I pull in and step out of the vehicle. The head attendant about 40-55 years old approaches me. Meanwhile another attendant, much younger than the first, pulled in another vehicle. As I watch the young man pull in through the doors, the older attendant says to me that I need to stop dating boys and date men, like him for a change. I looked him dead in the eyes, but said nothing. He proceeds to tell me how he likes his eggs in the morning and like most men, he prefers oatmeal raisin cookies to a woman’s tendency for chocolate chip. I take this all in slowly as he further explains the light in my car and how to disable it after the problem is fixed. I said thanks and drove out as carefully as I could, being that they put me in a tight corner to maneuver out the door.

It never dawned on me until later that he wanted to come home with me that night. I was the last customer of the day and even his insistence escaped me. I just kept quiet, aimed toward home but got side tracked at the supermarket. I picked up ingredients for cheddar eggs and oatmeal cookies from scratch. I decided to return tomorrow. At the home front I review my Cordon Bleu Cooking School cookbook I scavenged at 1/2 Price Books. I designed something I did not think he would forget for some time to come. Baking into the night, I finished about one in the morning, if I remember correctly. I delivered the repast in the early afternoon with cookies in a deep red stockpot, raw eggs with cheddar block in a basket, sketchbook drawings and handwritten letter with and SASE. He was not in the garage office; “He is busy in the back,” they said. Still, the younger from the night before remembered and told everybody in the room the older was after me last night. I left a few minutes later, hopeful, but the romantic in me said to remember I am a good cook.

Here is the recipe:

one large bowl, one medium spatula, one large wooden spoon, measuring spoons, dry measuring cups, spatula for a nonstick pan, three nonstick cookie sheets, wax paper, 1 large plastic container with a solid seal, one fork, one 2 inch melon baller

1.5c Unsalted Butter
1c dark brown sugar
1c granulated sugar
2 grade A whole eggs
2 capfuls Madagascar vanilla
3 T heavy whipping cream
1.5-2c All purpose flour
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
2c whole oats (not pre-cooked)
1-1.5c chopped raw almonds
1 bag dark chocolate chips
1 bag toffee chips
1.5c raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
1. Cream butter and sugar together.
2. Add in eggs and vanilla. Mix in.
3. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder.
4. Add flour to butter mixture.
5. Add oats to batter. Fold and distribute evenly.
6. Fold in almonds, chocolate chips, toffee chips, and raisins one by one.
7. Drop into cookie sheets with the 2″ melon baller. Twelve to a sheet.
8. Bake cookie in rotating shift for 10-15 minutes. Check at 10 minutes to see if the cookies are evenly golden brown. If so, remove from oven. If the batter is still a pasty color in the middle cook for two minutes more.
9. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. If you do not cool the cookies, they will break. Cool to retain shape. To remove from pan, try turning the spatula over before thrusting under the cookie to get even leverage to lift the cookie whole.
10. Yield: 64

Note: When cooking today I substituted pecans for almonds, forewent the heavy whipping cream and adding a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I choose the pecans because of what was available at the grocer and forgot the cream. The cream adds liquid and demands more time in the oven to cook thoroughly. Omission may alter the flavor. From what I tasted today, it made little difference. Salt was to help with the leavening. Lastly, is the taste test. After one, I had to have another and stopped myself because dinner was nowhere near on the table. The bit of salt lingers with the toffee like the salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks. There is just enough to accentuate the flavor of the other ingredients. Yes. I licked my lips. Just to save my waistline must freeze a good portion of the yield for coming months. I am happy and hopeful that you will be too.


Pastied Pastry Chef (and the dishes are done)

P.S. It took me 2.5 hours from set up through to clean up. It breaks down roughly: 20 minutes setup, 20 minutes measuring and combining ingredients, 60 minutes cook time, 10 minutes packaging and 30 minutes clean up. The recipe is for a double batch, so half the quantities of ingredients if it is more sensible to your needs.

P.P.S. There are more attachments leading up to creating this recipe than I can describe for now. The significant moment built does not hold weight like Challah on Friday Night or for chicken on Sundays after church. Still, in building my own recipe collection, their are stories, emotional trials, and rites of passage to learn. Maybe the end is in kitchen witchery or building my own dietary laws as I come to understand food and my own palette. In the house I live, for the most part, we build our own traditions and on occasion forget them only to remember in another part of the year. Personally, I am hungry for a family tradition we’ll remember and cling to with fervor throughout the calendar year. I have not forgot Christ, but I regret not knowing family that has passed, equally so those which live so far way. I want to know what they cooked. I want to know what they wore. I want so badly to know how to sing my grandfather’s hymnal that it hurts. I have a binder full of Catholic hymns and prayer that I collected over a several years, but that Baptist Hymnal is sitting at the back of my bookcase collecting dust. For one day call me a dragon, for there lie part of my hoard.

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Safety: The Laundry List II

Posted by Tespid on November 21, 2015

Safety: The Laundry List II
We had just finished eating at Taco Cabana. A shared bowl between the two of us was the norm. He would purchase the meal and I would recline into a shy appetite. He did not have much material goods to share; that never bothered me. What I understood of him was generosity, patience, and kindness. Of his friends many would not hesitate to ask for cash and others waiting patiently to ask for help. He had money; they did not. What happened after payday never fazed him –not too much anyway. He had his obligations and I never involved myself less to be called a gold digger and beyond that, just plain rude. With me, he shared and I am thankful for that.

We left Taco Cabana and started walking the neighborhood. It was mid-Autumn and dark. You could not see the sun from any vantage point. My feet directed themselves toward the shops, all eclectic and pricey. At that point, in my life I could never see myself in this neighborhood during the day without security or police following. It was not so much for the color of my skin, but for my dress. My style was poor eclectic chic; nothing I would think the women around here would fashion any day of the week let alone dressing in for church. Another step or two towards the thoroughfare in my consumer sponsored daydream and he stops me. “Don’t walk over there, you’ll get raped. It makes you look weak,” and then I understood. I heard about rapist profiling prey, but I did not know the protocols. Stepping off the curb, I walked toward him saying nothing and looking intently. I noticed the lights in the shopping complex were dim or completely out. Besides us, anyone could be out here. “Walk through the parking lot and do not be shy about it”. All this started engraining on my neural synapses. It would come in handy four years later when I was outside in the darkness trying to tire myself out. If someone was following me then, I never knew what did happen was that I made sure not to look like a thief, prostitute, or prey in any sense. Late night walking made me pay attention to my environment to a point of hyper-reality some nights. Though I never felt threatened, staying in the light and biding by my friend’s concern made early morning sunlight even sweeter.
W.H. Tespid ERT

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Candy, On Assignment (Addendum))

Posted by Tespid on November 18, 2015

Topic: Candy, On Assignment
Method: The Laundry
Title: Hard Candy
There is always an occasion that I miss friends and family. Predictably, it is after a move or a death. Me, on the other hand, can be sitting next to them and feel a resonance in my chest. Timidly I say, “I miss you” underneath my breath. They never seem to hear and I sit there feeling alone in the fractions between seconds as our interaction slows into “goodbye”. I have the same tendency with God. I will pray intently or watch the sunset after a long rain. It will dawn on me as I awaken from focusing on the rim of the world that “Yes, God. I miss you.” Despite the immediate connection out of time and humanity, I feel that they are gone. At least I remember what they look like, sound like, and smell like. Grandma smelled like tobacco and water. I think the aroma lingered from her wig as she passed me going into the kitchen. I cannot remember her hand touching my cheek, but I would like to recall in detail when she sliced me a piece of wedding cake. It was mom’s second marriage. Grandma and her sister cooked for the wedding party. The cake was white with white frosting. Intervals between frosted decorations swelled with silver dragees. After dinner and everyone leaving the dining room, I quietly crept into the kitchen and started riffling through bags on the counter and refrigerator. Finding the dragees on the bottom shelf, I slipped my hand into the bag to pull out a handful. I vaguely remember rushing across a cache of silver Jordan almonds. I left those to the grownups.
My grandmother died long before I knew what a good memory was. It has been years and with every notion, a detail fades away from the imprints in my mind. True I can look at photographs but I have trouble making a connection. It is almost as if I am fighting someone else’s memory just to make mine plain and easy to remember. Fighting mental imprints also calls out aromas from that house whether they are simple or not. I do not want to remember her on the edge of sweet, tobacco, and tar. It just makes me suspicious of other things. So, I close my eyes and can see. That can over there underneath the corner table to the right of the window has been there since before she died. It seemed that every time mom brought me to see Granddad, I had not eaten in hours. I beeline for that canister of Christmas candy shortly after the front door opens. It is spring now and come year two after her death, I still sit next to the window, prop the can over and wait for the smell of stale sugar to pass over my ears and hair. I smell the scent of make up now and the rot from brittle lace lingering. The crinolines of the doll based lamps on either side of the dresser. A clear memory, but they kept no candy in there either. Ribbons of red, green, and white in two-inch sections, by now all the candy in the canister had melted together. You pull one piece and the whole mass held onto it for dear life. Banging the can on the table was not an option. Neither was asking for help. Neither mom nor Granddad where supposed to know what I was doing. Picking after the pieces and chips came next. Slowly my fingers would get tired. Eventually, I would stop and affix the canister top to bottom. Putting it all back before they noticed was an afterthought. After mom left, I raided the refrigerator for dragees the years after her death and before Granddad moved in with us. What staved the urge off was a trip to McDonald’s to eat like an adult. To handle the pain, some years I ate, other years, I got lost. You may ask, what are my tactics these years? I cook my own food.

Hard Candy II

Now, do not get me wrong. I am a Christian. Still there was many a day before baptism and many a day that followed before I adjusted to the weight of that name. Friends and family would follow suit but only in time. To this day, it is less than a handful I hold while integrating lessons before and after taking my first breath coming out of the water. With that said you may understand my days before were spent in witchcraft and psychism. It was akin to fighting me to get out of a brown paper bag. Lessons before Christ helped me fight in the dark. Lessons afterward became a matter of learning what wall the switch plate laid. Knowing cast shadows and places where light does not fall, helps for a clean deep breathe every morning.

Night One
I made it through to mid-Autumn without a job. I was still scavenging for bites during the day at the county’s workforce center, but to no avail. Signing up for classes to learn how to search for jobs was a miracle. The afternoons went by with something to do, but the nights were becoming colder. No one was visiting and I had little money for gasoline. At home one night, scattered thought were forming in my head. Suicide was not the answer, but taking action on my series of problems was. I was clueless. By that time, I tried everything I knew including what the professionals proffered to find a job. I reached into the space above the stove and pulled down my wicker tray filled with small glass bottles of herbs and a golden cylinder. One twist and the metal lid pulled cleanly off. I had not touched this stash in months. In my mind, it was for emergencies only, no doubt. Green, black, brown, I pulled the yellow candle and set t aside. I tucked the tray away, grabbed my catalyst, and sat back at the table. The candle burned on the butcher black table for several hours. Honestly though, I should be dead. I let it burned unattended after the first hour. I had not the heart to stay awake. No tears for the job loss ever fell from these cheeks. There will be other days and other reasons for everything, especially when the animosity finally falls–and it has.

Night Two

The sunset and I was in a horrible place. Lonely, dejected, and shunned frames my feelings were for that night. I set the white candle in the middle of the table. Casual words from others become core teachings some days. The burning began and the light cast over the whole kitchen. Focusing, I let barrier move and I let sadness and confusion play out. So many days of acting out the manager, the healer, the intellectual, and the helper had made me tired and insincere. No one to care for my feelings or to coach me into a safe space was all I understood. I finally became skilled enough to do it for myself. I called Athena out. I needed an answer. I waited what seemed an eon. The result was no response that I could understand. I blew out the candle for every one of my dear hopes and retired for the evening. The thing was, I never asked for help before. I kept keen to her legends and slowly, her foes. No answer to me meant rejection. Little did I know I already had an answer.

Night Three

I placed deseeded and chopped out of season peaches in the stew pot along with two cups of sugar and two cups of water. I knew I was making this wrong, but I had to try. Trying means, I am not afraid to experiment or clean up. I passed that test for sure. For now, the peaches stay in the large pot to boil until hard crack stage. Then roll it out on the butcher block. Add the mint oil and fold over. Chill until completely hard in the freezer. I can tell the moment sugar burns. The aroma pinches the inside of my nose. If you leave it too long, it will choke you out of the kitchen. Then, I assume, the fires come. I sat too long looking at books. Getting caught in the pages and tripping over the chair was frustrating. I had this taste for peach candy since Easter. I was not willing to down Haribo peach flavored gummies candies. I wanted my own and it had to have the magic of mint with it. My timing was bad. When the candy finally cured, I had to hammer it into smaller bites. The burnt sugar turned my taste buds trying to wrap my tongue around the whole piece. For all I know, the candy stayed in the freezer long after I absconded with my vitals, a few clothes, and a box or two of cake mix.
I still want to commit to peach-mint candy, peach ice cream, and hand held fried peach pies. I look for peaches every year and I never seem to be able to afford what I want. I have fond memories of donut hole peaches. They were the sweetest thing I ever tasted. An outing to pick peaches never quite materialized like the rain did this past summer. From now on, maybe, I will make it a regular request.

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Safety: The Partial Laundry List

Posted by Tespid on November 16, 2015

Safety: The Partial Laundry List

What little I remember began with the night being clear. No snow, no rain, no joy lingered at the corner of the highway where I sat. My legs were not ready to continue the journey up to church, so I rested a bit of a while. Despite my comfort, sitting at the stop sign, the cold was beginning to grip my forearms, hands, ankles, and feet. The Catholic Church, over two and a half miles away in this dark would wait. “Home again, home again, jiggety, jig,” played its rhyme in the back of my head. I had no heat, but I did have shelter. Crawling in the back window did not seem a problem after all.
The night changed again as the woman in the passenger’s seat turned her gaze away- so much for a civilized greeting. I turned my head as well. My time was still open so, I rose and walked. Church was the only thing in my mind’s eye, well, that and cold water at the corner store 7-11. They were always giving no matter the clerk behind the counter.
It was well after two in the morning—the wee hours of the day, and I took advantage of my well warn welcome on the highway. I never saw the police. It is not that they were gone; I just never saw them along the highway at certain hours. It is just I was not the regular drunken sort, I was not a soliciting prostitute, nor was I among the street pharmacist type trying to be paid before sun up. If it was not them under arrest, then should I be? Evicted, malnutritioned, and a member of the nightly homeless caste; I never paid too much attention to that classification, but when I think back pursuing memories of risk and death, my time in the street holds fast.

Living between evictions and belonging to a street caste made for many security issues. Foremost, not confusing others into thinking I was a prostitute. I did not wear the clothing nor did I solicit for anything. Consumed with my research, at one point, I slept during the day and walked the night. When the cars kept following and pulling over to the side to wait for me, there was no internal banter. I veered away and did not speak until the pursuit repeated several times over. I told them aloud that I was not interested and to leave me alone. I did not lose my bearings and scream; but projecting my voice down the highway seemed enough of a notice to them and the police over the hill. Whoever it was eventually broke off, but the other followed me countering my pacing on every street and corner. I quietly panicked at the last corner and stood in the light. The car followed passing me then parked down the street. As he turned off the car lights, it became a waiting game. So, I stood under the light hoping the family across the street would assist. No matter my pitch or plea, it was as if I was not even there. So, I stood on the street corner a few doors down from where I slept and waited as he parked in front of my home. Despite there was no way for him to know that, I could not enter less he would know where to find me from now on. I stood. A few minutes later he turned on the engine, pulled up, and asked me if I needed help. “You are dressed in African colors; I thought you might need help.” “No, no thank you.” “Are you sure?” “Yes,” I replied and he pulled away. I ran quickly to the back door, let myself in, locked the doorknob, and barreled into the bedroom.

In the context of the story are a few points to be mindful when it comes to safety:
• I always say the night is beautiful and it is. Yet, do not get side tracked or overly fascinated by it. Like the intricacy of a web that fascinates drawing you in by its structure. Be enthralled by fractured light fall all you may, but in the end, know the gatekeeper will devour you. There is no discrimination against who walked in; it is all food in the end.
• I have a cardinal rule: no matter what happens, a when, I always return home. Note that the point does not deal with having a safe house. I just understand that this place is my home. This is where I dwell. This is where I heal. This is where I rest. This is where I learn. This is where I grow. For the sake of my homestead, who is anybody to kick me out of my home? Especially considering the bills are paid. Even when I give law enforcement, no cause and no neighbor a bother as well. This place is my refuge. “I shall not be moved”. So, safety first, health second, tell third is best administered in a stable location. How is home not the perfect place to administer to base needs and dire emergencies?
• When traveling at night, mostly on foot, ledge to yourself to always travel light. Maintain that the whole time you are out. Remember that what you take with you will feel heavier the longer you are outside. Any additions will add to that weight. It may prompt you to leave shiny objects you pick up on the side of the road, including your whole pack. Do not do that to yourself. Do not make yourself prone to losing everything that makes and certifies you who you are. One cross body bag or backpack may suffice, especially to leave your arms free.
• Color matters for identification. People will come to know you by your gear. Colors of bags or hats may distinguish you on a crowded street. If you need some anonymity, use plain colors and common designs. Plain fabric or pleather bags will put you in the everyman category. Try a bag designed not for bragging, but functions for utilitarian use. When I go hiking, the bag I use has a single bright color with no psychedelic print. It is of a simple structure, extremely practical, and is easy to use year round. It also makes for an easy identification. Not to forget that, to me, it also means I am not aggressive. I have nothing to hide.
Lastly, safety precautions do not always have to answer with a loaded gun. “Working smarter, not harder” can open up possibilities for a safer, less intimidating result. Remember to bend like bamboo when the wind blows so as not to break in two. When in doubt remain attentive, listen and talk low to reframe the situation. Stay calm and a better solution may appear.
©N.A. Jones 2015 All Rights Reserved
~W.H. Tespid ERT

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Assorted Chocolates

Posted by Tespid on November 11, 2015

Professions that no longer exist:

Story image for underground social movements from Al Jazeera America

Mizzou protests show BLM movement continues to grow

Al Jazeera America4 hours ago
But it falls under the wider BLM movement for civil rights, activists say. … a faction of Weather Underground, a radical 1960s protest group. … “It’s really common in social movements to see people copy tactics, so do we expect …
Story image for underground social movements from California Lutheran University

Pastor Gerry and the trouble-makers

California Lutheran University2 hours ago
underground movement housed asylum-seekers in defiance of U.S. …. to challenging institutions of higher education on social justice issues.

The radical ’70s roots of the free-press fight at the University of

Washington PostNov 10, 2015
Early in “The Weather Underground,” Sam Green’s stellar 2002 … suggest that social media have made it easier for protest movements to reject …

University of Missouri Students Fight the Power & Take Aim at the

Ambrosia For HeadsNov 10, 2015
With movements like Black Lives Matter becoming household names, … the use of social media in exposing a movement, and the power of protest in …. amerigomusic – B.B. & The Underground Kingz – The Trill Is Gone Feat.

Mum told to keep diary of allegedly abused daughter

The Sun (subscription)Nov 10, 2015
… and beaten by the gang despite being well-known to police and social services. … her at various places in Keighley, including an underground car park. … had been advised by the police to keep a diary (of her movements).”.

USC music classes destigmatize electronic dance music

Daily Trojan OnlineNov 8, 2015
… and hedonistic and was restricted to the underground warehouse raves. … EDM has had significant influence in the black and gay rights movements, … never come to recognize the significance to our social evolution that …

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Cooking: As Requested, Eggplant Parmesan

Posted by Tespid on November 5, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan
Dear Friend: It has been a good bit of a while since I made this, so I’m winging’ it on a memory. Use your best judgement when applying measurements. On the good side this recipe is fairly and plainly underseasoned, so feel free to use your taste buds when tweaking the flavor. Remember not to go overboard though and washout the flavors of eggplant and green pepper by using a store brand seasoned sauce. In any case, fare the well and good eats to you too.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
One Medium Eggplant washed and sliced into ½-inch rounds. Place the eggplant into a large ceramic dish that contains about two cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Allow it to sit for about one hour. Remove from the dish and pat dry with a paper towel.
Start water for boiling pasta in a large pot.
For the sauce, sauté three cloves of garlic, minced, and one small onion finely chopped in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in one sliced green pepper and turn until soft. Add in one large can of crushed tomatoes and thin out with one can of tomato sauce. Be careful how much sauce you add so as not to make the final consistency too thin like soup. Chop 10-15 leaves of fresh basil and one tablespoon of fresh Italian oregano to add in with the tomatoes. To round out your taste buds you may lightly season with marjoram and/or thyme. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of sugar. Cover and simmer through. Do not forget to add a little water as you go to prevent the sauce from thickening too much.
Cook the pasta and reserve it in the water until needed.
Beat two eggs with ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper in a shallow bowl. In another wide shallow bowl, place one cup of flour. In a large frying pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. One by one take a round of eggplant, dip it into the egg mixture, coat both side with flour, and then fry in the pan until golden brown. Use more olive oil for frying as needed. Place the fried eggplant in a glass-baking dish, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and place in the oven to keep warm. Note: You can mix the flour with parmesan cheese before frying. Just watch that the pan is not too hot where the outside would brown before the heat cooks the eggplant. Also, setting the eggplant in the oven for 1/2 hour after frying will finish off the vegetable well.
While the eggplant fries, take one package of sweet or hot Italian sausage to cook by placing the meat in a metal pan and placing in the oven for 30 minutes.
Service: Place one serving of pasta on a plate covered by two to three sections of eggplant. Cover that with ½ cup of sauce. Finish the presentation with one link of sausage. Lastly, feast.
©N.A. Jones November 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Citizen’s Charter November 2015

Posted by Tespid on November 4, 2015

Citizen’s Charter
In times of unforeseen government and assumed divine abandon, providing for the general welfare may in purpose, intention, action, and reason lay in the hands of the populace. Because of this, we may find where strife surmounts every act of good will and defense of civil justice. Return to control and awareness by charging each citizen with the yoke and responsibility of protecting, insulating and stabilizing the national infrastructure. Domestic tranquility rests in those hands until the federal government is confident and prepared to return to its function as a protector, benefactor, and interpreter of civil good.
Making objections to policy is not a suggestion to substitute current government practices; it is a call to mind and encouragements, not to arms. Civil disobedience is a good will offering, not only protect our lives and hand built investments, but also to encourage vigorous debate and present solid alternative solutions. As an offering to discussion, goals must be set to reestablish a sensitive national climate that once preserved the sanity of poorer classes. With this act and question, we commit to bolstering the foundations of our economy by securing the fruits of the environment; this includes an infrastructure that we have grown symbiotically with over centuries. The entanglements among elements in that infrastructure are more than the record can or cares to preserve. Understanding the national climate in terms of social, political and cultural waves; conclude that as it grows, so we live and die in its life cycle. Taking charge of securing life and artifact, when and if our government fails to tend and take steerage at well side and ocean fare, is not an act of terrorism; it is a demand of survival. To the degree of preserving a democratic republic, taking umbrage is not enough. Taking up arms may be too much. Sailing and scaling that divide to reunite disparate parts and opening older byways may help us all find shelter in this economic demise.
When water runs the hills for centuries and finally chooses not to feed our lakes and streams, we cannot pause for only sorrow and a prayer. Action is the only choice. Dying of thirst in a land called our own is not acceptable. Quench even the slightest thirst by digging deep into a shifting water table with bare hands. Where ever the watershed, we will learn to supplant the growing crops, bolster the peering towers, and edify the secure watch if not but for the sake of survival and longevity. The day water no longer flows in the creeks and streams; preparing for action is all that separates us from death. Be ready.
Certain things we must accept; namely our mortality, our ignorance, our hunger, and our thirst. Do this with sincerity and the utmost righteousness of character. For the sake of a second path, if we do not, we are a fool joyously walking off a cliff. Acceptance tells us, in service to these hallmarks of intelligence, the first and only test of breath is our survival. Choose each of us life and not dwell in the graveyard pandering and playing at death. Choose each of us; the hard rocky road early and endurance complimented by foresight are ours for the age and beyond.
Fluted Frog, Esq.
November 2015

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Tip Jar: $.75

Posted by Tespid on November 3, 2015

Forgive me. I get told certain things and forget to post. The problem is I either get told not to write it down or I do not have anything to write it down. So today’s adventure was Wal-Mart. The biggest task, I thought, was getting through rude people while shopping. The hidden task seemed to be making it past the older crowd of women. A voice told me twice on two different occasions that daytime at Wal-Mart is for picking up older women. Nighttime, on the other hand is for older men. Being clueless this long, I thought I could make it through. The first time after I was told the cold, I ignored everything. I seemed to be unscathed. This time was different. I got harassed for not picking up on clue and queues to the point that reality shifted. I forgot why I was there.

Meanwhile, I’m in my workroom today decompressing and memories pop-up:

  1. “Even the sleeping pills in Wal-Mart can’t sleep”
  2. 2. “Where are all these people coming from in Wal-Mart?” There seemed to be more people on staff at certain times than people shopping. Years later I heard there was a theft ring operating out of the back door of the store.
  3. 3.Gay women were running a prostitution ring using the back of the store and the customer’s bathroom.
  4. 4.There is a code for using the women’s bathroom. The first two stalls and the disabled stall are for prostitution. The third stall if there is one, is for normal use. On occasion when I used the bathroom there, no one cleaned the bathroom. I am putting it delicately. In the past year that has changed and I am thankful. Still, I’m reticent to use much there with the previous points in mind. I can not remember which stalls are “reserved” for drug deals and I am not going to speculate.

Meanwhile, I can not give you a source nor cite experience. All in all it is what I heard, so use the information wisely.

W.H. Tespid ERT

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Cooking: Breaking the Round-a-bout Fast, All Saint’s Day

Posted by Tespid on November 1, 2015

Untitled (Lemon-Ginger Waffles)

Heat the waffle iron.

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon corn oil or melted butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 sour milk

Blend the ingredients well. Ideally, use a ceramic bowl with a wooden spoon.

2 egg whites beaten stiff

Fold into the batter.

Note: Pull the waffle when the steam no longer pours from the iron.

Serve with butter, your choice of syrup, a side of seasonal fruit, and coffee or tea.

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Poetry: As Requested, Flud

Posted by Tespid on October 30, 2015

Charles Robert Darwin dreamed
On a boat designed like an ark.
Noach could not complain
Because it was not an art he had mastered,
So some have been told.
Or did he?
Boats on the oceans and seas of tranquilities
E’re to be opened for fear of some
Carbon-hybrid evolutionary disease
“Sleep, please sleep”, I hear Naamah cry
In the prow of the boat singing antelopes lullabyes.
The wife of Noach had more to do than cook and clean,
A sailor’s wife kept watch and helped the dove’s to preen.
Preparations of olives,
Oil, meat, seed,
Ranches and leaves
From living plants that boarded the ark
At the hands of many of these:
Twixt and Tween
Castor-Pollux pairs
Scylla and Carbidis
Siamese feral felines forgotten for foreign found
Cheng and Eng
Geminiflorus Brachiae
Thomas Didymus of James and brother one
Bobbsey and Bobbsey
Romulus and remus
One eye and one eye,
Which make a fraternal two
This list may go on but even
Temple scribes have reasons to put ink, well and papyrus down.

Just like the pain of lifting great burdens up a ramp
A tasking method that gave way to leading trained and domesticated
Animals and passages by a lead.
Slacking off,
Giving it some rope
Was not an option you see
For the dripping faucet that was the sky
Followed into a mo(o)nsoon as yo shall read.
Follow-up with a test of your own of lunar gravitational pulls, the
Oceans and the seas.

Drop, Drop
Drip, Drip
When the upper skies open up
It is accurate enough to place tears between your lips.
Drop, drop, drip, Der-ip, DRIP.
Crawling beads of brine
From tear ducts
To bridge
To bone
To corner of wides
falling in open mouth.
©N.A. Jones February 25, 2008 All Rights Reserved

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Recipe: Sincere Oatmeal

Posted by Tespid on October 26, 2015

I can not remember if I have posted this recipe, so forgive me for the repetition if I have. Several people have asked and I’m passing it on just in case. Every morning when I got in to work, I prepared this mix till it just became bothersome. A few months later I picked it up again. For now I’m exploring steel cut oats and simple mixes, this recipe is built for time consciousness, hunger, and a morning sweet tooth that choose to forgo the pastry shop.

1 package instant oatmeal (pick your flavor)

1/2 cup chunky applesauce or crushed pineapple

1/2 cup vanilla yougurt

Prepare the oatmeal in the microwave. Upon removing mix in fruit and yogurt. Eat and prep for the day.

©N.A. Jones October 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Cooking: As Requested. Quick Garlic Pasta and Fish

Posted by Tespid on October 24, 2015

W.H. #7 (Garlic Pasta and Fish)
1 serving of al dente cooked spaghetti still hot from the water
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves of garlic (diced)
1 fillet of Talapia (1 serving)
5 leaves of fresh basil (roughly chopped)
1 Tablespoon vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon of parsley
Kosher Salt
Lightly brown the garlic in olive oil. Add the fish fillet and cook through. Place the fish and garlic in a ceramic bowl along with 1-2 tablespoons of the seasoned oil. Add the basil and broth to the bowl. Toss this mixture and parsley with the spaghetti. Lightly season to taste with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Portion. Serve. Eat.
©N.A. Jones October 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Cooking: As requested: Supper Rain (Pasta at the Edge of a Drought) —->Addition<

Posted by Tespid on October 22, 2015

Supper Rain

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 cup cornmeal

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 cup corn oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

Grease one 13″ x 9″ pan. Mix ingredients. Pour into the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with butter and honey.

While the cornbread is in the oven, start the water for the pasta and brown the sausage in a large skillet. Boil two servings of angel hair pasta and start the sauce. Finish off the pasta by tossing with one tablespoon of olive oil. Lightly dust with garlic powder and parsley. Toss again and set aside.

2 links of Hot Italian Sausage, casing removed and browned. Add one half of a finely chopped onion and four cloves of chopped garlic to the pan and brown. Coarsely puree on can of diced tomatoes, liquid drained, and add to the pan. Stir. Add two tablespoons of fresh Italian Oregano, leaves only. Add 10 leaves of fresh Genovese Basil coarsely chopped. Lastly add one teaspoon of granulate sugar. Stir and heat through. Toss with pasta and serve.

©N. A. Jones October 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Cooking: A Crisp Bag of Potato Notes

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2015

A Crisp Bag of Potato Notes
Grief over potatoes, like other vegetables, released when I began my first garden. All the frustration started in my mother’s garden. Since second grade, she taught me to expect from the ground. As the years passed, I came to demand a yield every late spring and headlong into winter. It was not until I brought plants into my home that I developed sensitivity to their life cycles, trials, and metamorphoses. I came to know better places to bathe in the sun and perfect times to water determined by the moon’s draw. By the time I set into the dirt outside my home, I resolved to let the plants grow without much interference. First, I would tend to watering only. Secondly, I keep the animal at bay by bargaining a separate feeding away from the garden. With this approach, I became satisfied with a harvest that produced enough for me alone. After the growing months past and the first meal from the garden, another barrier broke in my understanding about food. I made it through my resistance and boycott of childhood foods after learning their source and their processing before arriving at the dinner table. One food I swore off is pork chitterlings. It took a good ten years and a cajoling over a dry Thanksgiving turkey before I ate them again. These days my mother keeps them for herself. The cleaning time and cooking just does not make the yield worth more than for one person, including seconds the following day.
Tending my mother’s garden now is a far cry from years when I was shorter, closer to the ground without far to fall. Back then, with my grandpa’s collie in tow, I would pull the tall weeds in the front yard that escaped summer mowing. I assumed the growth I pulled would eventually blossom into food. Everything mom plants feed us, why not my efforts as well? Dragging collie around the front of the house I dug into chunks of granite that lined the edges of the lawn. My dusty hands set the collie to stand watch while I continued to make a hole with stubby little fingers. Collie stood still until I covered over the roots with stone. Leading the dog into the house, I closed the screen door behind before taking off her leash. When we left closer to evening my mind had forgotten the day and I had nary a thought of water. Strange how every time we visited with my Grandparents, I expected the plantings to be intact and burgeoning with flowers and fruit. When I looked, the plants were never there. Even if I planted the day before there was no sign of growth or effort. After a year, I think someone gave up. I found one of my efforts dried and shriveled up in the rock bed. I became discouraged. Resolving never to touch a seed did not come to mind. Subliminally mind became a hole drawing in the whispering promises of water. Water and sun never united in my mind until tending my mother’s garden in middle school.
From Granddad’s yard, I became fascinated with the little leaves that parted slowly from the plant stalks to later hinge over into a flower then fruit. If you are attentive to the growth, you can see changes throughout rainstorm and a scare of drought. Potatoes? Well, that is another story. When I had my garden, my interest leaned toward herbs and vegetables I never heard of before. You know the type. The vegetable has a name that would put a shy Grandmother to fear its color and shape; too afraid to cook less hell be released stove side. Although I have no shame for being adventurous, I have my fears when pulling leaves, shoots, and fruits from the forest bed. I deal with my fears when in the woods. The greatest one is when I have no choice but to tend to my hunger. Just in case, to settle tears and shakes I pursued learning techniques of gathering in the wild. Surely, that is a story for another day and I will return from my digression.
Growing potatoes came about pulling a bag of organic blue potatoes from the pantry. What remained at the end of the month had developed into a thick concert of eyes and roots. Dumbfounded as to what to do, I let them sit on the kitchen counter as I made dinner. Normally the first thought would have been to cut off the roots and eyes to get to the tuber. Then I would make mashed potatoes. With dinner finally in the oven and a sharp memory of a phone call, I knew what to do. Every Sunday night call to Gram over the past year, we talked about what she planted and how it brightened her mood. Gram is not growing Spiderwort or Fig Trees; she has a small carrot or a half of a potato suspended in water lounging in sunlight at the window. The leaves are always gorgeous and she tends to the plant until she forgets to fill the jar of water and it dries up under harsh sunlight. Grandmother in mind, I took a chance to do the same, but not in the window. I planted the potatoes outside in the far garden bed with the Russian Tarragon, Eucalyptus, and Chamomile. A week or so into the watering schedule I saw short stems. Two more weeks, I saw stems and broad leaves. Two more weeks after that, I saw orange and black beetles, so I know something was good below. To my chagrin, I never harvested the potatoes. Life changes and I moved to another county. It will do me good to write about my first garden: animals, insects, sun, rain and all.
I realized that over the years, potato dishes have graced my plate and palette so infrequently, that if I dare call myself a cook I need to explore, collect recipes, and set my files aright. God forgive me for saying this, but the world is made of not only fruit pastries and tea, but also other fundamental dishes as well. So I’ll start with regaling a thing or two about potatoes that might help your cooking as well. Learning to cook potato dishes from the million dollar bakes to crisp steak wedges to my own tastes was a release from the obligations of preserving family cooking traditions. One herb here, a dash of cheddar there, and a little more cook time in the oven make for my own dishes, not my mother’s or grandmother’s. For now, I pursue cooking for self-discovery in culinary traditions or requirements, not to mention medicinal uses as well. Becoming well known for what I find is not in my drive. What plays for me is to work out my curiosities until a grand resolve and use found. Right now, I have a cadre of recipes from taking risks and learning the local agriculture. One task to continue is taste-testing dishes by friends and the public. So far, I have let baked goods out of the kitchen to find a home elsewhere. Main dishes will have to wait a little longer. Until then I will cook in the closet and let the aromas hover outside the house.
Here is the latest addition to the potato notes:
French Fries:
Add one tablespoon of concentrated liquid bouillon to two to three cups of corn oil. After cutting one large potato into thin shoestring like strips, place them into the oil. Turn the heat on medium to cook. The temperature will rise evenly through the potato for an even cook. Do not stir the potatoes in the oil; let them sit to completion. Time the fry for about 15-20 minutes. Cooking is complete when the French Fries float in the oil. If you prefer your fries slightly browned, leave them in the oil for another minute under a watchful eye.
In a brown bag, add one teaspoon of chili/lime seasoning, ½ teaspoon powdered onion. ½ teaspoon powdered garlic. After the potatoes brown, pull them from the oil with tongs, shake off a little oil, and place them into the paper bag. When all of the potatoes are in, close the top of the bag and gently shake.
In a ceramic bowl, add olive oil and apple cider vinegar in a one to one ratio. One tablespoon each with ¼ teaspoon of honey will season one large potato well. Blend the ingredients with a whisk then turn the French fries over gently in the bowl to pick up the final flavoring. Serve and eat.
Using the paper bag has worked well for hand seasoning fries. Remember to use less herbs and spices than you need. The last batch I prepared ended up with highly encrusted potatoes. I have a penchant for hot and salty sometime. The problem started when Louisiana hot sauce would not satisfy my palette. I set out for a blend of spices on fries to follow with a sprinkling of Tapatio, Louisiana Hot Sauce, cayenne hot pepper sauce, and lastly ketchup for a cooling note. Results were delicious, a bit salty, and the precursor to a gallon of tea in one meal. The physical note that let me know not to touch this again was my right leg swelling over an hour. Instinct told me it was the salt content. Two gallons of water drunk through the night and I could walk easier in the morning.
Potatoes are resilient and bland enough to blend any seasoning with it. I still think I will need to try them plain without salt, pepper, oil or milk to learn what the vegetable tastes like. What follows is learning how to marry flavors with the potato that meld with each other not just support or float an herb, spice, or pepper. I have more time to discover potatoes, especially a garlic dip I itch to make every time I catch a cold.

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Cooking: As Requested, Yellow Curried Chicken and Mango

Posted by Tespid on October 20, 2015

Yellow Curried Chicken with Mango
Prepare one cup dry of rice to cook. Scrub the grains in a sieve until the water runs clear. Toss in a pot that already has one tablespoon of oil hot. When grains appear dry and cling to each other, add two and a half cups of water. Boil for five minutes then reduce the heat to simmer. When most of the water has evaporated, place the lid on top and turn off the heat. Let the rice sit until needed.
Meanwhile grab two chicken legs. To prepare them split them both at the drumstick and at the thigh/back section. Debone the thigh and slice the meat in half. Split the backbone in half on the shortest width. Take one large frying pan and season it with one tablespoon of oil. Heat the pan and then fry the chicken in its own fat along with one cubed medium sweet potato. Cook the chicken for twenty minutes on each side.
When the chicken is cooked set it aside in a covered dish. Mash the sweet potatoes in the remaining oil. Add five cloves of garlic (roughly chopped). Add one finely diced small onion. Add 3-5 dried Arbol Chilis tops removed, deseeded, and broken into pieces. Turn in the pan periodically. Remember to dig a little at the browning parts at the bottom of the pan so it will not burn. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add two cups of chicken or vegetable stock, eight ounces of coconut milk (one small can), one pureed mango, juice of half an orange, one teaspoon of Kosher salt, two teaspoons of yellow curry, ¼ teaspoon of cumin. Stir to blend. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a side of rice. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro.
If you can get your hands on flat bread or Naan, that would make your taste buds extremely happy.

Note: Substitute red curry or a hotter chili for a spicier dish. If you decide to do this, I recommend a side of raita. I make the cooling dish from plain yogurt, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and sea salt.

As of 5 p.m. contemplation of apples, peanut butter, egg whites and pie crust have not left.

Something for later to conquer, no doubt.

Your friend, deep fried or fresh from the garden,

~Pastied Pastry Cook

©N.A. Jones October 2015 All Rights Reserved

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